Protest leaders plan to keep demonstrating all summer

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Many Americans who have taken to the streets in the past three weeks say they are planning for a summer of protests aimed in large part at local governments that are entering their budget-planning season.

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Several leaders of the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd while in police custody have repeatedly said they intend to continue rallying for overhauls of police departments.

Protesters march against police brutality, Friday, June 12, 2020, in Salem, Mass. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)


"We're not going to see it quell until we see some hard systemic changes, " said Chanelle Helm, the 40-year-old lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Louisville.

Many organizers are pushing city leaders across the nation to reallocate some funding for policing — often the largest chunk of a city's operating budget — to social services. They say doing so would ease some of the conflicts police are often called on to address. Others are pushing for specific reforms, including banning chokeholds or requiring officers to intervene if they see another officer using excessive force.

In Texas, where most cities operate on a fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, there will likely be fights over police funding, as budgets are hammered out over the coming months. In Austin, city leaders indicated this week they wouldn't support funding in next year's budget for any additional police officers or militarized police equipment. But officials in Houston, which has a fiscal year beginning July 1, included slightly increased police funding in a $5.1 billion budget approved Wednesday.

In this June 6 photo, protestors gather to listen to Courtney Wiggins speak at at Open Space Park in Traverse City, Mich., during a peaceful rally in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. (Mike Krebs/Traverse City Record-Eagle via AP)


Organizers in Philadelphia have said prolonged civil unrest helps deliver results. City officials there put off a planned increase to police funding amid calls from activists in recent weeks.

"Our position is that public pressure and people staying in the streets is actually helping us," said Krystal Strong, a member of Black Lives Matter Philly, which is hosting a rally planned for Saturday.

"If we are truly invested in growing this movement, we need more people who are waking up to the reality of injustice," Ms. Strong said.

A protester holds a sign that reads “Stop Killing Us” during a “Silent March” against racial inequality and police brutality that was organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Friday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


In Louisville, demonstrators have continued to hold rallies every day, and organizers say they have no plans to let up. One on Thursday, promoted by Black Lives Matter Louisville and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, was a protest against no-knock warrants, which allow police to storm a residence without first announcing their presence. In March police used one during a raid that resulted in the killing of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old local black woman. The Louisville Metro Council Thursday evening unanimously passed a measure banning such warrants.

Black Lives Matter Louisville also is seeking to harness protesters' energy toward redirecting funding from the police department and corrections system to community services. With the Metro Council completing the 2020-21 budget, the group, along with others, is distributing breakdowns of the proposed city budget on social media. They are urging residents to call and email council members to press them to reallocate money to social programs.

Some demonstrators, like Marcus Todd, are focusing on mobilizing the electorate. He and some friends in Louisville created a group last week, Voters Coalition, which has assembled around 50 volunteers to help protesters register to vote and request absentee ballots.

Protesters raise their fists and carry signs as they take part in a “Silent March” against racial inequality and police brutality that was organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Friday in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)


"We need to make sure we have people dedicated to listening to the community and taking actionable steps," said Mr. Todd, 31. "That has to happen through voting." More demonstrations in Louisville are planned in the coming days, including a large one for the Juneteenth celebration on June 19 commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S.

The nation's simmering civil unrest could culminate this August, when civil-rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton and George Floyd's family are planning a march in the nation's capital. It will take place on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the Lincoln Memorial, the site of his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

"We're going back this Aug. 28 to restore and recommit this dream," Mr. Sharpton said during his eulogy at Mr. Floyd's funeral. "Because just like at one era we had to fight slavery, another era we had to fight Jim Crow, another era we dealt with voting rights. This is the era to deal [with] policing and criminal justice."

In this June 1 file photo, protesters march through the streets of Mount Vernon, Ohio. (Joshua Morrison/Mount Vernon News via AP, File)


Though crowds in some cities have become smaller, many protesters who are not involved in planning the demonstrations say they want to keep showing up. Trevell Burns, a 33-year-old federal employee who lives in Baltimore, said he plans to protest in front of the White House at least twice a week until November to keep up the momentum behind the movement.

"We have to make it easier to have bad cops off the street," he said, pointing to the fact that the police officer who killed Mr. Floyd had more than a dozen violations on his record. "Who can imagine how many have not been reported?"


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